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Planet continues to run hot

Don’t confuse our local weather with what’s happening globally

I wish I could open this article talking about how the medium-range forecast for the next couple of weeks is all about sunshine, warmth, and nice drying weather. Unfortunately, if you take a look at this issue’s forecast, it is looking like we might just be moving into a cool, wet period.

Right now, I am leaning towards the more conservative forecast which is calling for between 15 and 25 mm over the next couple of weeks. At the other end of the spectrum, one of the weather models is calling for between 25 and 50 mm, with a good chance of seeing measurable snow! Heavy, wet snow in early May is not that unusual, but given a choice, I would rather go with warm and relatively dry weather thank you very much!

Before you start getting too worried, the longer-range forecasts are still pointing towards warmer-than-average temperatures for the middle and end of May, with near- to above-average temperatures continuing into the summer — more on that in the next issue.

Well, as I don’t have nice warm, dry weather to discuss, I haven’t received any weather-related questions this past couple of weeks, and I haven’t really overheard much talk about the weather of late, what will be our topic for this issue? It’s a little early to start our yearly in-depth review of thunderstorms and general severe summer weather, so I think we’ll dive into an overview of just what has been happening weather-wise around the world over the last little while. Before we begin though, just let me say that I did hear (and made) a number of comments on how beautiful the weather turned out for Easter.

We’ll begin with a look at global temperatures. The numbers for March have been crunched, and despite the slightly cooler-than-average temperatures across our region, the planet as a whole is continuing to run hot. According to NASA and NOAA, the mean global temperature for March 2019 was the second or third warmest on record. For those of you more trusting of the global satellite temperature data, which measures the global temperature of the lower eight km of the atmosphere, March was the fifth warmest in the 41-year record, according to the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Of interest, March came in about 1.06 C above average which, according to NOAA, tied it for the fifth largest monthly deviation from average for any month. The largest deviation was 1.24 C that occurred in March of 2016 and all of the top five have occurred in the last four years.

Moving on to the poles, it seems like all this extra heat is having an impact. Over the Arctic, the winter sea ice maximum occurred around the middle of March, with the average sea ice extent coming in at 14.55 million square kilometres, which ties with 2011 as the seventh-lowest extent. Ice coverage dropped dramatically in late March and by April 1, ice extent had dropped to a new record low for the beginning of April. To put this ice loss in a different perspective, the linear rate of loss is 41,700 square kilometres per year, which works out to 2.7 per cent per decade.

Around Antarctica, sea ice is now on the increase, with this year’s minimum occurring on March 1. It was the seventh-lowest minimum on record. Ice growth during March was slow, and currently amounts are outside the inter-decile range (10 to 90 per cent of the data).


The highs and lows

To wrap up our look at global weather conditions, here are some of the temperature records set so far this year (thanks to the Weather Underground and Maximiliano Herrera):

  • Six–major weather stations that have broken all-time heat records in March; Zero – cold records;
    Meru (Kenya) max. 31.8 C, 1 March;
    Cape Bruny (Australia) max. 39.7 C, 2 March;
    Wide Awake Field (Ascension Island, United Kingdom) max. 33.5 C, 11 March;
    Espinheira (Angola) max. 41.6 C, 22 March;
    San Jose (Guatemala) max. 40.2 C, 27 March;
    Mango (Togo) max. 43.5 C, 28 March;
  • Four–national all-time heat records broken in 2019; Zero – cold records;
    Christmas Island (Australia), 31.6 C, 19 January;
    Reunion Islands (France), 37.0 C, 25 January;
    Angola, 41.6 C, 22 March;
    Togo, 43.5 C, 28 March (later tied on 4 April);
  • 31–national monthly heat records tied or broken in 2019; Zero – cold records;
    January: Micronesia, Paraguay, Angola, Equatorial Guinea;
    February: Chile, Marshall Islands, Guyana, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Andorra, Austria, Hungary, Jersey, Guernsey, Slovakia, San Marino, Slovenia, Angola, Papua New Guinea;
    March: Australia, Marshall Islands, India;
    April: Angola, Togo, French Southern Territories, Mayotte, Taiwan.

Remember, just because our weather might not be running hot, doesn’t mean the planet as a whole isn’t.

About the author

Co-operator contributor

Daniel Bezte is a teacher by profession with a BA (Hon.) in geography, specializing in climatology, from the U of W. He operates a computerized weather station near Birds Hill Park.

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